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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Bench’

As we head into the homestretch of Spring Training, many fans are wondering which of the Yankees highly touted prospects will make the team. My best guess is that only two will be on the Opening Day roster – and one won’t be the guy everyone seems to think. Here’s a quick run-down, beginning with pitchers and catchers.

Pitchers – Coming into camp, there were six youngsters on the radar. All have demonstrated that they’ll be in the majors someday and a few have shown glimpses of top of the rotation talent.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Lomoglio

Dellin Betances: Headed to AA Trenton. Although he impressed at times, those moments were mostly in the early spring. As the competition began to stiffen, his lack of command and inexperience began to show. Don’t worry, though. He has all the tools to be an ace one day. My best guess is he gets a cup of coffee in 2012 and is a full time Yankee in 2013.

Manny Banuelos: See above, although he’s shown more poise. He may actually fast track to the boogie down faster than Betances; he has better command of more pitches at this stage and he’s left-handed.

Andrew Brackman: Remember how Randy Johnson frustrated the Expos early in his career, as his 6’10” frame got completely out of kilter with men on base? Brackman is at that stage now. He throws hard and has a wicked breaking ball, but his mechanics need a lot of fine tuning. He’s headed for AA Scranton, but we may see him in pinstripes sooner than the other Killer B’s.

Ivan Nova: Yankee fans, meet your number 4 starter. It isn’t official yet, but he has proven himself capable this spring. He is combining a plus fastball with a “cut-slider” and improved change to make hitters look foolish at times.

Adam Warren, David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell: All three are proving that they may be serviceable as middle of the rotation or relief type pitchers. A lot of teams would drool at this trio, but with the Yankees, they’re merely trade pieces.

Catchers – Most teams have trouble finding one young catcher. The Yankees have 3 kids who are pushing for a MLB spot. The back-up spot on the Yankee roster will be open until early May with Francisco Cervelli’s injury. Which one goes north?

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero: The kid can hit, but his defense…well, no one is going to confuse him with Thurman Munson just yet. I really hope the Yanks send him back to AAA to start the year – to allow him to play every day and work on it. Catcher is still a defense-first position and having an all-offense catcher isn’t a luxury the team can afford. I suspect that the manager understands that, having been a catcher during his MLB career.

Austin Romine: The most polished defensively of the trio, his odds of being the heir to Jorge Posada are pretty low. By bringing him north and letting him play 2-3 times a week, he can show off those skills and hopefully hit well enough that the Yanks can set him up as a big-time trade piece – or that he plays so well that Cervelli winds up on the trading block. He is good enough to start for about 20 teams right now, including a few with hopes of contending.

Gary Sanchez: With only 47 pro games under his belt, the 18 year old is near the top of Baseball America‘s Top 100 prospect list. He is still at least two, and more likely four, years away from being ready for the majors. But if the scouts are right, this kid is the next coming of Johnny Bench.

Coming tomorrow, I’ll look at the minor league infielders and outfielders trying to make the Opening day roster.

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Barring the end of the world in 2012, Derek Jeter is assured of going into the Hall of Fame especially if he fills all the record books as we think he will. What most people don’t know is that Derek Jeter will set another Yankee first when he goes into the Hall of Fame.

When Derek gets elected on the first ballot, he will be the first Yankees player to win the Rookie of the Year award and to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Out of 150+ players to be Rookie of the Year, only 13 of those players have been enshrined in Cooperstown. They are: Jackie Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench.

And it’s likely Mike Piazza and possibly Jeff Bagwell will be on this list in the next few years one would think. Pretty exclusive company, eh?

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